Overview of the Water Based Research Unit

The Water Based Research Unit is focused upon investigating the health benefits and improving the sporting performance of all aquatic recreational and sporting activities. This Research Unit was established by Professor Wayne Hing (Head of Physiotherapy) and Associate Professor Michael Climstein.


The mission of the Water Based Research unit is to build the well-being of our communities by developing practical strategies & solutions through pragmatic health and sport research in real-world settings.


To achieve excellence in aquatic based research that will improve the health and performance of individuals participating in aquatic recreational/sporting activities.

Dr Wayne Hing heads up Bond’s Water-Based Research Unit, right now his research students are using the very latest technologies to improve future outcomes for surfers, stand-up paddle boarders, swimmers, lifesavers and more

Current projects

 The Water Based Research unit has a large array of research equipment available to support various research projects:

  • Stand up paddle board ergometer
  • Surfing/swim bench ergometer (including ANT+ technology)
  • 3 metabolic carts for expired gas analysis (Parvomedics and MedGraphics)
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry* (*requires student to complete an ANZBMS bone densitometry course prior to data collection)
  • Wireless surface EMG
  • BodPod
  • Bioelectrical impedance analyzer
  • LODE cycle ergometer
  • Treadmills
  • Portable lactate analyzers
  • Cardio-Chek blood lipid analyzer
  • 12 lead telemetry ECG
  • Force plates
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Global Positioning Satellite Motion Analyses System
  • Sensewear Accelerometer Units

The Water Based Research Unit is looking for potential higher degree research students (Master’s and PhD) interested in completing research in the area of water based sporting and/or recreational activities (surfing, stand up paddle boarding, surf life saving,swimming etc.). Students may choose  from available projects or propose research in an aquatic activity they prefer.

Please direct your inquires to the Director Professor Wayne Hing

Inaugural Water Based Research Unit - Completed HDR students

Supervisors:  Professor Hing and A/Prof Mike Climstein

One of the newest sports growing in popularity is Stand up Paddle boarding (SUP). SUP’s increasing attractiveness is attributed to SUP’s deemed easy to learn and that it does not always require specific surf conditions for participation. The peak body for Stand Up Paddle Surfing Australia has identified Currumbin (Gold Coast) as the highest density and center of SUP in Australia.

SUP websites have claimed that the benefits of SUP include improvements in strength, co-ordination, core stability and physical conditioning, however these claims remain fully unsubstantiated. Although the sport has been seen as a recreational activity clearly it has potential as an exercise training and rehabilitation tool.

Contact Ben Schram 

Supervisors:  Professor Hing and A/Prof Mike Climstein

The Gold Coast weather, geography and culture of water sports make it a truly unique aquatic recreational and sporting environment. With over 2.5 million surfers in Australia, the Gold Coast is home to a large percentage of both professional and recreational surfers (Surfing Australia, 2010). However despite these numbers there is a significant lack of research surrounding the identification of surfing injuries (both acute and chronic) and valid approaches to prevention.

Current projects

  • A national survey will give a global snapshot of current surf injuries, predominant location of injury, and the relationship between variables such as age, frequency of surfing, stance, and level of experience.
  • Based on the above findings a musculoskeletal screening tool will be designed to identify asymmetries within surfing populations compared to non-surfers.
  • A physiological screen will be performed on various groups (long-term recreational, elite) of surfers. VO2 max, max power output and general baseline measures will be performed.
  • Clinical Implications:   Research will aid in developing a valid and reliable screening tool to identify surfers who are at risk of potential injury and to be used as a guide for future treatment strategies.

Contact James Furness

Sustainable surf tourism

This research stream explores sustainability in the context of surf tourism developing nations such as Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji. The central aim of this research is to critically analyse the enablers and impediments to community-centred, sustainable approaches to surf tourism. The findings will result in a deeper understanding of how these often remote communities can utilise nature-based surf tourism resources for community building and poverty alleviation, and ultimately, decrease their reliance on less sustainable activities like mining, logging and fishing.

Why research is needed

Earlier research has demonstrated that that the past mismanagement of surf tourism in developing nations has resulted in crowding, economic leakage, and sociocultural and environmental degradation for host communities. By analysing the contributing and inhibiting factors to host community involvement in the surf tourism equation, a deeper understanding of how remote communities can sustainably utilise locally available marine-based surf tourism resources can be developed.

Current & future projects

  • O’Brien, D., & Ponting, J., (2013). Sustainable surf tourism: A community-centered approach in Papua New Guinea. Journal of Sport Management27, 158-172.
  • Ponting, J. & O’Brien, D. (Under First Review). Managing Nirvana: An analysis of Fiji’s struggle for sustainable surf tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
  • Surf tourism, sport development and community building: Exploring the nexus in a remote Papua New Guinean village.
  • Surf tourism as a lever for community healing after war: The case of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.
  • Ponting, J. & O’Brien, D. (2013). "SurfCredits": A formalised approach for professional surfing to “give back” to host communities. Paper accepted for presentation at the 19th Annual Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference. Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand, November 20-22, 2013
  • Abel, A. & O’Brien, D. (2013). Negotiating communities – sustainable cultural surf tourism. In, J. Ponting and G. Borne (Eds.), Sustainable stoke - Transitions to sustainability in the surfing world. Plymouth, UK: University of Plymouth Press (In Press).
  • Ponting, J. & O’Brien, D. (In Press). Liberalizing Nirvana: An analysis of the consequences of common pool resource deregulation for the sustainability of Fiji’s surf tourism industry. Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

Contact details

Associate Professor Danny O’Brien